Monday, June 29, 2015

The magical courtyard at Hervé Baume - Avignon



I suppose that it should come as no surprise that one of France's most reputed antiquaires and designers of garden furniture, Hervé Baume, should have a spectacular courtyard behind his boutique in Avignon......and yet as many times as I have wistfully peered in his showroom windows I had never discovered its existence.



 For that I have to give credit to my friend L, who, while I was doing a fair amount of shopping in my imagination, had stepped further along the sidewalk and said, "Oh, what is in here?" Now, I know as a travel writer it is my duty to be inquisitive but at times I am admittedly very timid about walking into anything that might be "Propriété Privée" - it is the American in me. However, as I was out and about with such an elegant personnage as L, I knew that no one would dare to say anything unkind to us and so I followed...



And found a secret corner of Provençal heaven.


Every element was just perfect. From the calade or cobble-stones to the gorgeous plantings in waist-high Anduze planters (more than I have ever seen at one time) and sky blue shutters rising above.


While the courtyard is quite vast (the entryway is high and wide enough to have accommodated even the most elegant of horse-drawn carriages), there are still numerous corners and decorative elements to discover. If "the eye has to travel" according to the fabulous Diana Vreeland, well, then mine went on a little journey...


...under the archway and up the sweeping stone staircase, an escalier d'honneur...


...with glimpses of the soft pastels of classical frescos above...


...coming back down to a mysterious oeil de bouef opening below...


...and even an artists atelier worthy of Picasso en face


But each detail only strengthened the whole...


...and the overall effect was that of a living, joy-filled garden...


...one where I could have made myself comfortable for a very long time indeed.


But the rest of the afternoon was calling. 

As I ducked back out into the bright sun, I noted the plaque by  the main entrance, naming this incredibly fine building the Hôtel Tonduty de Malijac. It turns out that this 16th century private mansion passed in the 17th century to Baron François Tonduty de Malijac, who was a Seigneur of Saint-Légier, a legal advisor, a dignitary for the University of Avignon and an astronomer formed by a Jesuit! In 1983, the building - for its facade, roof and yes, courtyard with its stairway - was declared a Monument Historique.


As we crossed back in front of the showroom, I realized that I really needed to share some of the goods on offer with my fellow antiques lovers out there. For you see it is les soldes and amazingly, everything was already marked at half off...


.Now, let's see...and I apologize that these photos are not up to snuff. As I mentioned, the brightness of the outdoor light made for quite a contrast to the darkened interior...Ah yes, it was L who pointed out the giant and quite rare woven basket at 125 Euros. I appreciated the sea-shelled filled dome at a mere 30. 


Certainly, the gilt touched console was still not a bargain at 4000 but I could easily see the lamps in a beach house at 125 each, thought of a friend who would have swooned over the blue and white garden pot at 30 and was fascinated by the intricately etched smoke glass jar for 130. Below were tall crystal photophores for 120 and an ex-voto that I most certainly wouldn't have been able to resist at 25.

 I don't know whether it was a good thing or bad that the boutique was still closed for the afternoon break. As I passed by the entrance, I spied the owner himself seated just inside, chatting with a friend. He regarded my photo-taking with a supercilious eyebrow raised as if to say, "Well, who might you be, my dear girl?" Only an admirer of your magic, Mr. Baume. Only an admirer...


Hervé Baume
Antiques, Garden Furniture and Decorative Objects
19 Rue de la Petite Fusterie
84000 - Avignon

Tel.: +33 (0)4 90 86 37 66

I honestly don't know if the courtyard is open all of the time or if we just were lucky! But it truly is one of the prettiest that I have seen in Provence. You will find the entry to the left of the boutique. Perhaps you will let me know if you happen to pass by?

24 comments:

  1. Looks absolutely wonderful! The perfect courtyard. Wish I were there with you.

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  2. Amazed that we haven't stumbled across this shop and garden given that one of our favorite Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants in Avignon is just down the street called l'Essentiel. If you have not been there, you should check it out. They have a lovely interior courtyard for dining al fresco. Recommend it highly.

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    1. I certainly know of it and have even recommended it and yet have never been! The next time you go, try to see the courtyard, Michel. I think that you will like it. :)

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  3. What a delightful place. It looks like a place of total peace and tranquillity. The antiques are not too shabby either.

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  4. 2nd swooner for blue on white pot checking in !

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    1. Ah, that would look great with your blue doors, Joan...

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  6. Replies
    1. And yet it is right in the heart of things...I know that you see such courtyards in Paris too. :)

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  7. So many wonderful sights in that courtyard. Loved the staircase and the oeil de boeuf - both reminded me of Le Petit Trianon. Elegance and grace.

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    1. Exactly! And yet simple in the forms, I just love it...and Le Petit Trianon too!

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  8. You were very brave Heather, to stealthily enter the courtyard! What a find! The cobblestone courtyard and all the potted plants. What an oasis of calm! But the wrought iron railings on the stairway and the beautiful hanging light, just gorgeous!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Cheers,
    Deb C - Melbourne

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    1. Can't you just imagine what it must have been like in the past? With carriages pulling up to let out their illustrious passengers who would then sweep up that fantastic staircase?

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  9. Beautiful courtyard...love the pebble paving! Glad you peeked around the corner ;)

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    1. Thank you Gretel but I am just a scaredy cat following my brave friend!

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  10. Replies
    1. Merci, Stacey. So nice to have you here!

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  11. I am also timid about entering places that "might be" private. Fortunately, Steve is not! This courtyard would have given me palpitations, for sure!! So glad you were brave and went in. Such a treasure!

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    1. Of course Steve isn't afraid...he is a photographer! I am sure you can imagine how many places Remi has dragged me into...

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  12. Eyes to look and inquire, balancing the comfortable and startling, and a pen to tell the story.
    You added one more: photos that lead to more personal exploration.

    "a living, joy-filled garden.” and an antique store can fill a heart for a long time.
    Thank you Heather.

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  13. Heather, it truly is a magical place!!!!
    You know the garden is the star of the show.
    Those antiques........highly overrated......hehehehe.
    I do hope they love their garden as much as you do.
    Cheers
    Neat xx

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  14. Gives a new meaning to the phrase 'picture perfect'!

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